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Why Green Living Works for Us

Allyson Hepp
April 1, 2013

One "crunchy" mom talks about green changes in her family's life as part of the Care.com Interview Series.

Though Brittany isn't keen on telling her kids what to do to be green, she also believes in teaching her kids why their actions matter when their family makes efforts to be more eco-friendly. While she hopes to inspire The Pistachio Project readers to go green, see why Brittany doesn't suggest switching to natural products all at once and her other advice for a green-friendly life.

Tell us about yourself, your family, and your blog.

My name is Brittany Thomas and I am married with four children. I am a stay at home mom who homeschools my kids in the Pacific Northwest. I am also the founder/author of The Pistachio Project. The Pistachio Project started out as just a place for me to keep track of all of my new natural and green changes, however as things progressed, I realized others were interested in these topics as well.

Have you always been environmentally friendly? Can you share why it became important to you?

I have not always been environmentally friendly, however I was never completely unaware of the environment. My whole green journey is now important to me mostly because of my kids and the lives we live. It's not that I'm trying to save the earth from being covered in trash, but I am green because of the toxins and chemicals that we are and will be subjected to if we continue to live as most of the world currently does.

Tell us about how you go green as a family? What steps do you take?

We use a lot of reusable products in my family. We use cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers. I try to buy our food so that it's not in cans or plastic but rather I choose glass, cardboard, or food that doesn't need packaging. We also make many of our personal products like toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner. This saves us money but also limits the amount of bottles, jars, and tubes we use and we also are not contributing to the chemicals that end up in our bodies, water systems, and soil.

What role do your kids play in being kind to the environment?

My children are all pretty young right now with the oldest being only 6 years old so they do not really participate too much outside of the fact that they do whatever I am doing. They recycle because I recycle; they use chemical free products because that's what we have, and so on.

Can you share any games or activities you've done with your kids to help them understand the importance of green living?

I can't say that we've ever done anything fun to help my children understand green living. I do make a point of explaining why we do what we do. You can make your kids do pretty much anything you want but if you do not explain to them why you do it then it is likely that they will not continue those practices once out of the house. At first, I would have to explain why we weren't buying this or that but now it is my kids who ask if something is recyclable. They are beginning to now understand that there is a reason we live naturally.

Do you offer your kids any incentives for being eco-friendly? Tell us about them.

No we do not offer my kids incentives for being eco-friendly. I want them to do things because they want to for no other reason than for the sake of being kind, for the sake of helping people who might never even know they did anything. I feel this is an important lesson to learn.

What advice would you have for parents trying to include their kids in a more concerted effort to reduce their carbon footprint?

My best advice I can give for parents who want to get their kids on the same page in regards to green living is to include your kids in all aspects. Don't just tell them that you are doing something different; explain to your kids WHY you are making these changes. Giving your children a reason to make a difference will keep your kids living green long after they move out of the house.

Can you share one of your favorite earth-friendly recipes or crafts with us?

The homemade toothpaste recipe is one that we use all the time. I love that I can use one recipe for adult toothpaste as well as children's toothpaste. The fewer products to make or store the better in my opinion. It's very easy to make and has a long shelf life so I don't need to worry about it expiring before we use it all up. My kids love the taste of it and since it's all natural I don't mind that they are using it.

Homemade Toothpaste

2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil - softened
1 tablespoon xylitol - ground up in a blender/food processor
5-10 drops of peppermint essential oil

Mix all ingredients together and store in a jar. Scoop out of jar with toothbrush, popsicle stick, etc to use. As coconut oil becomes hard in cooler temperatures, you can add a bit of another liquid oil to the mixture so that the recipe is more pliable.

What are your best tips for families to go green and make a difference?

I think it's best to remember that if you want to go green; it's not an instant 180-degree turn around. You do not need to rid your house of all non-green items instantly. I find that it's best to start small. Start in one area and once you feel that you've gotten the hang of it then move to another area. Another easy way to live more naturally is to replace as you go. You should replace as you run out of products, so when you run out of paper napkins buy cloth napkins instead. It's much slower to make changes this way but you are more likely to stick with it and you won't feel like it's too big of a change to make. Even if you do not change absolutely everything for green options, every little change you make does make a difference. It also gets your children started on a path to be green and hopefully they will do an even better job than we are currently doing.

Brittany is the owner/writer of The Pistachio Project. She started writing posts so that she could catalog all the changes she had made and force herself to research more things that were crunchy- now she blogs to share her findings with her readers and to motivate and inspire them. Follow Brittany on Facebook and Twitter to see her latest crunchy products and ideas.

See how other families stay earth-friendly in our Care.com Interview Series: Raising an Earth Friendly Family.

Photo used with permission from Brittany Thomas.

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